UNL chancellor condemns racial slurs: “These are not our values.”

"I am deeply hurt that this language has been used here." UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman  Photo: UNL

"I am deeply hurt that this language has been used here." UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman Photo: UNL

Story and video by Veronica Grizzle, and Kayla Van Wie, NewsNetNebraska

In the past week, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln community experienced two racially charged episodes. Thursday, UNL Chancellor Harvey Perlman condemned those actions in a statement that read; “The use of the N-word and insensitive racial impersonations are the recent incidents that demand our immediate attention.”

Episode I

The first incident happened during a Nov. 13 Association of Students at the University of Nebraska (ASUN) meeting, when Student Senator Cameron Murphy made repeated racial slurs as part of a debate on a resolution that would eliminate offensive speech from ASUN proceedings, said Steve Smith, UNL Communications spokesman. Murphy is a graduate student in nutrition.

ASUN representatives said Murphy chose to demonstrate his right to free speech by using derogatory terms; now he faces possible impeachment for doing so. Attempts by NewsNetNebraska to contact Sen. Murphy for comment have thus far gone unanswered.

“I was in shock, I was sick to my stomach,” fellow student senator Annie Himes said.

Himes says Murphy was debating a proposed resolution at the meeting that he thought restricted his freedom of speech. His response, including a cited comedy routine by actor Chris Rock, which contained the N-word and other discriminatory phrases.

Episode II

Smith also noted that earlier this week, a racial epithet was written in chalked letters on a campus sidewalk in front of a UNL fraternity. Having two racial incidents happen in the same week sparked Chancellor Perlman to release his statement about the use of racial slurs on campus.

Perlman’s statement said “I am deeply hurt that this language has been used here, for purposes I can’t imagine and in venues where civil discourse and its values are honored.”

Although the two recent incidents spawned a response from the chancellor, they are not the only cases UNL has seen this year.

According to Smith, earlier this semester, insensitivities occurred regarding costuming and impersonations during a Homecoming skit.

“It was troubling, but it led to constructive conversations across campus. That is why these latest developments in the past week are very concerning,” said Smith.

Perlman is looking to combat these issues, and possibly prevent any future public displays of racial slurs.

Action proposed against ASUN senator

As for Sen. Murphy, the hearing was proposed during the Senate meetings that occured on Wednesday. A former member of ASUN proposed the hearing and other members voted in favor. Even Murphy voted.

ASUN meeting
ASUN meeting. Credit unl.edu

“Sure, I’ll vote for myself,” Murphy said.   

All these incidents led Chancellor Perlman “to exhort the campus to stand and say that this is not who we are, that these are not our values and such behavior is not representative of UNL,” said Smith.

Perlman ended his statement with a plea to the entire campus.

“But I ask all of you to rise up and say, ‘Not here, not now.’”

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